Big Direct Mail Mistakes!

Next to cold calling, I’d have to say that direct mail is one of the most misrepresented marketing tools around. (When it comes to offline strategies anyhow.) Why do I say this? Just take a look at some of the mailers you get! Most direct mail advertisements are an exercise in “how to waste the most money possible in 3 back-breaking steps!” Ugh… I get worn out just thinking about it!

I cut my teeth on direct mail in the mortgage industry. When the industry average was 1/2 of 1% response to a mailer, my campaigns were consistently drawing 1.5 – 2% for large mailings, and 4 – 5% for smaller more targeted campaigns.

What made the difference? Here’s a few of my secrets:

1. The art of the hook

Most of my co-workers were using copycat marketing strategies. They’d take a look at what everyone else was doing, and just copy it. No real thought was put into the message. Instead of taking the time to craft a mailer that spoke to its audience, these people seemed to think it was all a numbers game, and if they just threw enough mail into the market, they’d get enough back to make it worth the time and expense…. WRONGO!

Step #1 for me was to look at what everyone else was doing, take notes, and then NOT DO IT! If 90% of my own office sent the same darn mailers and message, chances were good the same ratio existed in the market. This translates into a soggy, wet, played out mailer that will disappoint every time.

After I saw what I needed to avoid, I then played the role of the recipient. How can I get my mailer opened? Aha! A unique mailing vehicle: I sent my mailers in greeting card envelopes! Sounds expensive right? Actually, compared to a wasted mail drop it was downright thrifty! I shopped online and bought my greeting card mailers at a nice discount, and sent 100 cards per drop to a targeted list.

My “hook” was to speak to the fears and concerns of my market. Instead of the usual cliche’ opening statements “You can save 136.44 on your mortgage” I decided to put myself back into the shoes of my audience: “What do I fear? What motivates me? Why am I ignoring these mailers?”

Boom! I got it! They’re ignoring me because they don’t trust me anymore! They are suffering from information overload as they are assaulted with “refinance now” messages on the radio, on television, in their emails…. I need to stop the madness! RESET their mindset!

How did I do this?

I accomplished this task by changing my approach to one that was unexpected. Instead of starting off with a sales pitch, I first empathized with their annoyance at getting so much junk mail: “I bet you’re sick and tired of getting all these letters from mortgage companies aren’t you? Before you tear this into tiny pieces, can I get you to take a look at the box I prepared below?”

As the readers eyes are drawn to the content box just 2 spaces down, I had a great hook ready for them. I’ve already accomplished objective #1 at this point. I got their attention, and demonstrated that if nothing else, I at least understand them and their frustrations better than the average mortgage company.

Why not try shifting your approach as well? You might be surprised at how well this works!